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13 NY rabbis to Jamaal Bowman: Quit your anti-Israel charades

An open letter from 13 New York rabbis criticizes Bowman’s efforts to shift U.S. policy toward Israel

Congressman Jamaal Bowman is cementing his place among the members of Congress most hostile to Israel.

While many community leaders in the Congressman’s district (N.Y.-16) — including each author of this piece — have sought to engage him in constructive conversations about the damaging positions he has taken with regard to the U.S.-Israel relationship, Rep. Bowman has chosen to dig in deeper and align himself with the most caustic anti-Israel voices in Washington.

Last year, Congressman Bowman removed his name from a bill to expand the Abraham Accords peace deals — this, after signing on as an early supporter. Three months later, he co-sponsored a resolution with Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Betty McCollum and Cori Bush commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba,” a term that characterizes Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the U.S. officially recognized the new state) as a “catastrophe.”

Last week, a new effort was pushed by the anti-Israel squad, with Bowman in the driver’s seat.

Along with Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Bowman mobilized colleagues to sign a scathing, one-sided letter to President Biden and Secretary Blinken calling on the administration “to undertake a shift in U.S. policy” toward Israel.

Their letter castigates Israel — and only Israel — for the lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

It cites “the bloody reality in the occupied West Bank,” yet makes no mention of the Palestinian Authority and its “pay-to-slay” martyrs fund that rewards terrorists for killing Jews.

It chastises Israel for counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank, but fails to recognize that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed in recent raids were in fact terrorists planning attacks and Palestinian gunmen shooting at IDF troops trying to arrest those terrorists.

It criticizes President Biden and his team’s noble efforts to reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and pressures the administration to be far more hostile toward our ally.

And perhaps most concerning, the letter accuses Israel of human rights abuses that would disqualify it from receiving lifesaving security aid from the United States. While those accusations are unfounded in and of themselves, the suggestion that the Biden administration is negligent in its oversight of our aid has been formally debunked as recently as this month.

Congressman Bowman is no longer merely an accessory to anti-Israel rhetoric in Washington. He is now leading the effort to erode support for Israel on Capitol Hill and within the Democratic Party.

If he succeeds, it will leave the world’s lone Jewish state further isolated and exposed to those who want to cause it harm. It will hurt America’s interests in the region, where we need more allies working with us against foes like Iran, China, and Russia. And it will fracture the very foundation that has made every previous Israeli-Arab peace deal possible: an ironclad U.S.-Israel relationship.

We do not condone efforts to undermine the pillars of a robust and longstanding democracy in Israel. Americans and Israelis have each seen firsthand how political extremism can divide a nation. Regrettably, Rep. Bowman’s anti-Israel views continue this extremist trend and only stoke further tension and conflict. We need to bridge divides to help achieve peace, not inflame tensions with baseless attacks and one-sided policy prescriptions.

If Congressman Bowman truly cares about advancing peace, he will abandon his damaging and counterproductive agenda.

Those of us who care deeply about the U.S.-Israel relationship call on Rep. Bowman to change course.

Signed,

Rabbi Jonathan Blake
Rabbi Adam Baldachin
Rabbi Jeffrey Brown
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi Leora Frankel
Rabbi Howard Goldsmith
Rabbi Daniel Gropper
Rabbi Shmuel Hain
Rabbi Binyamin Krauss
Rabbi Chaim Marder
Rabbi David Schuck
Rabbi Jay M. Stein
Rabbi Annie Tucker

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